Rope on the Nose: Snurfing for Girls

Sarah S. Cameron


Written by Sarah S. Cameron
GO-PILOT of Magical GO-GO

For those of you reading this article who have never heard of snurfing, read slowly and get ready to start dumpster diving and early-bird-tag-sale-hopping to score yourself a board. Here’s a little snapshot history. Snurfing began back in 1964, invented by Sherman Poppen, now regarded as snowboarding’s founding father.  Now ladies, let us take note of the behind-the-scenes super inspirational girl power. The invention was inspired by Poppen’s daughter, Wendy, after he saw her stand up on her sled as she rode it down the hill. (Some could contest that it was really little Wendy that was the first true snurfer-girl, but we can all just reflect on that.) Anyway, Poppen quickly got to work by bolting two skis together and the sport developed from there.

Snurfer in action

Girl-genius struck again when Poppen’s wife coined the name “snurfer” to incorporate both snow and surf. The concept was simple yet brilliant. You stand on the board sideways with no bindings, hold on to a rope that is attached to the nose of the board, lean back and swivel your way down the hill. Try it once and you’re hooked. It didn’t take much convincing for the idea to take off. Snurfers were soon manufactured by Brunswick Corporation and sold for the bargain price of $15 a pop. Thanks to little Wendy, a phenomenon was born.

Yes, snowboarding evolved from snurfing. Yes, snurfing pre-dated Burton. And yes, Jake Burton Carpenter was totally into snurfing. So what’s all the hype about? Snurfing, like surfing, exudes an unpredictable, spontaneous and exhilarating feeling that created the roots for snowboarding. Snurfing is the epitomy and core of what snowboarding once was: back-country free riding with no bindings. It’s the simplistic nature of snurfing that engages the rider and makes it so different from anything else.


One of the best things about snurfing is that you need less than a foot of fresh snow to get rad with your snurfer, which is why it’s the ideal sport for those places that don’t get hammered with fresh snow every day. Since I’m representing east coast riding, I will say that it offers a solid challenge to snowboarding, especially for those of you who sit around during those fresh-snow covered winter days complaining you can’t afford to snowboard. It’s time to snurf.


This is probably the best part of snurfing. It costs next to nothing to snurf. You don’t need a ridiculous $75 lift ticket or expensive, high-tech snowboard boots that always seem to leave you with heel lift. You don’t have to park 5 miles away to get shuttled to an over-crowded mountain and wait 45 minutes in line only to ride down an icy trail elbow to elbow with weekend warriors. Snurfing is for those seeking excitement in seclusion. The most ideal snurfing can be found at your local golf course, sledding hill, or any small back-country hill that gets fresh snow. Mountains are not required. We’re talking back yards with steep hills. Buckets of snow are not even necessary. In fact, snurfing works best in about 6-12 inches of fresh powder. You don’t want too much snow so that it weighs down your board, but you want just enough so that you feel like you’re floating.


Now this is where the challenge lies. Because many people don’t know or appreciate the extraordinary value of a snurfer, you can often find them at your local tag sales, on curbsides with garbage, or on ebay. When searching for a snurfer, you need to keep your eyes open at all times and use your resources. Trash day should start feeling like a clearance sale at your favorite store. Don’t lose the enthusiasm for your search. Get psyched. And remember, you’re not going to pay a lot, if anything at all, for your new found snurfer. Don’t settle for just one—the more you score the more you can share with your friends.


Do you have what it takes to become a snurfer? This is a question that only you can answer. Snurfing is for those who want to put smiles on their faces and radical memories in their craniums. If you think you’re up for a soulful winter season filled with fresh tracks, a rope in hand and a reunion with your old moonboots, I challenge you to find yourself a snurfer and experience the roots of snow-slippin’. See you on the golf course.

Brunswick SnurferBrunswick SnurferBrunswick Snurfer

Racing Snurfer


Posted by freelance on 02/12/07

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